CCAC Steele

Jay Steele, adjunct physical education teacher at Community College of Allegheny County, starred in the fitness video designed to help viewers get more active in their work environments.

Stuck at your desk? Trying to incorporate more movement into your day? The Community College of Allegheny County Wellness Committee has produced a video that can help you. The 11-minute video leads you through a series of low-impact exercises and stretches that can be discretely performed in your work environment.

Although the video is designed for individual users on their own time and pace, its inspiration initially came from a fitness challenge.

Movement for Everyone

No doubt about it, fitness challenges are immensely popular. They offer a fun, competitive shared experience that proves highly motivating to participants. So, when the Wellness Committee had a routine meeting to discuss ideas for a series of wellness activities, they were already working out the details to repeat a walking challenge.

However, Linda Macsurak, senior accounting clerk with the CCAC payroll department, raised an important question. She has difficulty with mobility and wanted to know what the Wellness Committee could do for those who, for whatever reason, were physically unable to participate in the walking challenge.

The question hit home.

“There are times, for whatever reasons, lack of time, weather or health purposes, that people are challenged with being active,” says Shakia Robinson, lead management administrator and wellness coordinator. “And I knew with my experience in working with medical leave of absence employees that the right wellness effort could be really helpful.”

Robinson says that discussions soon focused on chair exercises and movements that you can do at work, even within a cubicle, to help you stretch and move. When Robinson suggested the idea of a video to Macsurak, her reaction was pure excitement.

“Linda had a lot of enthusiasm,” Robinson says. “Her health is in the forefront of her mind and she’s receptive to anything that can assist her efforts. Her input was confirmation to move forward.”

Lights! Camera! Action!

Robinson turned to Adjunct Physical Education Instructor Jay Steele for help. He serves as the instructor leading the viewer through various movements. Robinson was a student in one of Steele’s kickboxing classes about 10 years before she took her job at CCAC. When she discovered he was still an instructor, she knew he’d be a perfect frontman for the video.

The exercises were up to Steele’s discretion. He organized the stretches and exercises in a way that featured different body parts in clumps — calves, arms, chest, etc. This way, viewers can watch the entire video or choose a focus area.

“I take the viewer from head to toe,” Steele says.

The entire video was shot in one afternoon. Robinson says that she enjoyed watching Steele relax and bring his warm, encouraging personality to the camera. What you don’t see in the video, however, is Robinson who was trying the exercises behind the camera as Steele was being filmed.

“They felt great,” Robinson says.

For Steele, the timing of the video was uncanny. He describes a recent article in Fitness Journal, one of his professional publications, that he read just days before Robinson contacted him.

“I read that 86 percent of our health care costs go to chronic diseases, and prolonged sitting is a significant contributor,” he says. “When people move you see big benefits in risk reduction in these diseases. This is such a powerful message. Hopefully people will take advantage of this short video and add quality to their lives.”

Field Tested

In selecting his exercises, Steele sought input from his wife, Carol, who works as an administrative assistant at CCAC. She often talked about tightness in her neck, shoulders, hips and elbows.

“I can see some of the physical issues she has from being stuck at her desk on a regular basis,” he says. “Seems like the exercises have helped her and reduced her discomfort. It does work!”

As for Steele, being a physical education teacher means he has rarely had to worry about sitting for too long. “With my job,” he says, “I’m movin’ and groovin’ with the activity classes.”

You can check out the CCAC video at https://youtu.be/QugXYEtK0Fo

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